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Forging Forward and Onward

Michal Eisikowitz

With sterling faith, a supporting husband, understanding children, and a generous dose of humor, Cheri Tannenbaum transcends a debilitating disease.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

stream yellowA tanned, three-story brick house with a manicured lawn and spacious driveway, Cheri Tannenbaum’s Efrat home looks like it’s been transplanted from Teaneck. Standing in stark contrast to the drab, dilapidated, windowless Arab structures just bordering the entrance to the well-populated West Bank yishuv, the home has a welcoming, familiar feel, complemented by the bright-blue Mediterranean sky.

Cheri is waiting outside. Petite and thin, with animated, green eyes, she is outfitted with a perfectly tied maroon tichel, navy top, and colorful, homemade Tie Skirt (see picture.) A chunky orange necklace completes the look, virtually branding her a resident of Gush Etzion: energetic, practically dressed, with a touch of funk.

But something marks Cheri as different. Her movements are spastic, her facial expression plastic, and her speech monotone. She articulates with tight muscular movements, in a disarming, deeply guttural voice that takes concerted effort to understand. Cheri has dystonia — a rare, complex neurological condition. And for the past 38 years, until just 10 months ago, she was not able to speak at all.


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